And we’re back! HBO’s Season 2 of Game of Thrones premiered, and I high tailed it to my parents’ house to watch with my friends and family. I feel sorry for those watching that haven’t finished the Song of Ice and Fire book series (i.e. everyone who was watching with me last night), because this opening episode was a bitch to keep up with.
I have so many thoughts on this episode, but the first one is that “The North Remembers” will likely not go down in history as the best episode of this series. Much like the first episode of Season 1, Season 2′s opener just had too much ground to cover in too little time to build a strong narrative in any of the zillion plotlines this series will follow this year. When we got to Gendry at the end with the reveal of Arya, it felt like the show had only been going for 20 minutes (my boyfriend, who has graciously committed to watching the show with me despite his distaste for fantasy: “God, that felt like two hours!”). I think that Game of Thrones fans will just have to get used to the fact that the first episode of each season, much like the prologues of the books, will not be quite as enthralling as the rest of the series.
–So with that said, the rest of the episode was pure (Arbor) gold. First, we open the episode not on Dragonstone with new characters Stannis (Stephen Dillane) and Melisandre (Carice Van Houten), as I assumed it would be, and instead right back at King’s Landing on young King Joffrey’s (Jack Gleeson) nameday (that’s Westerosi jargon for birthday). King Joff is having knights battle each other to death for his own sick pleasure and even tries to drown one guy, Ser Dontos, in wine when he shows up to the fight drunk. (Note: not trying to give out any spoilers, here, but remember Ser Dontos. He will be back.) Thankfully, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) – who’s looking more like a Lifetime Original Movie victim with every breathe – speaks for the man and surprisingly, the Hound backs her up, so Joffrey keeps him alive to serve has his new jester.
Jack Gleeson is such a magnificent bastard here, and his swagger and evilness really steals the whole episode. If the Emmy awards are looking to honor another actor besides Peter Dinklage, I really think they can look no further than Gleeson’s beyond-his-years performance. If anything, Gleeson’s sneers have made my dad reeeeally hate Joffrey. My pops, who’s the kind of guy who used to imagine ways he could kill Osama bin Laden himself, has already asked to be transported to Westeros so he can tell the characters “that somebody ought to kill that little punk.” At least Dad didn’t volunteer to do it himself.
-Meanwhile, Joffrey’s mama Cersei is in hot water over Ned Stark’s beheading and her apparent lack of control over her boy-king, so Tyrion is sent to reign her in. Here is a place the show deviates from the books – in the series, Cersei is pulling all the strings, but here, Joffrey is shown to have a mind of his own and tries to exert his own authority over the Queen Regent. Whether that will continue is up in the air, but it seemed that it was the King, not his mother, that ordered the death of Robert’s bastards on the show last night.
–Daenerys Targaryen (whoa, I haven’t had to spell that in a while) is beautiful even when she is dehydrated a covered in sand. She’s trying to feed her dragons, but they won’t eat anything she’s giving them. The last time we saw Dany it seemed like everything was going to be awesome all the time for her – there were dragons, boobies and people bowing at her feet. But the dragons are still babies, so they are not going to be conquering anything anytime soon, and could be stolen if Dany’s khalasar runs into the wrong people. She sends out the blood of her blood to go find help. I think she’s finally starting to think Jorah ain’t lookin’ too bad anymore.
-Jon. WTF is going on with Jon? He’s hanging north of the Wall with the Black Bros and Craster, he-who-marries-his-daughters, but I am bored. Jon’s one of my favorite characters from the book but I was more pleased to see Samwise Gamgee- I mean, Samwell Tarly – than anything. I just missed that dopey face of his.
On a side note, surely we’ve all noticed that Jon’s loyal sidekick Sam is the most direct analogue for a Tolkien character in the whole series. Probably the second most directly inspired character would be Theon Greyjoy for Smeagol-Gollum. Meak, rhymes with weak, rhymes with reek, rhymes with My Precious.
-And finally we come to Arya and Gendry, one of my favorite team-ups in the series. We only get a brief glance of the young wolf but it was an exciting way to end the episode and only proves how vital she is to the series, that merely her appearance onscreen would be enough for fans to end the night on. So happy to see the adorable Maisie Williams again. And did they change the actor for Gendry, or does he just look different without the soot all over his face? I’ll have to check on that.
-Peter Dinklage, you’re a badass. Please work on that accent, though, kay? It takes me out of the scene every time.
-Richard Madden, you are killing it. You might be stealing my love away from Kit Harington this year. Robb Stark was just dripping with sexiness. It was coming out of his ears. Damn.